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Balabanova All Over

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[Athens, Greece, May 19 ,2019] We began our first full day in Athens with a visit to its most famous landmark, the Acropolis. We knew it would get busy, so we figured we’d avoid the crowds by getting there at 8 am, when it opened. Even though we were staying in the center of Athens, the neighborhood looked like a ghost town on our walk to the Acropolis! Even though the Acropolis… Read More

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[Santorini / Athens, Greece, May 18, 2019] Our flight back to Athens wasn’t until late afternoon, which left us with some time to explore the other parts of Santorini. There is so much to this island other than Oia and its gorgeous sunsets! First, though, we made the most of our stay at Aqua luxury suites. We enjoyed our breakfast and took one last dip in the hot tub before we said… Read More

[Sofia, Bulgaria, May 15-16, 2019] The weather, which had been getting worse even since I got here, deteriorated even further the next day. It’s a good thing B and I already saw some of the major sights in the city. For this second day in Sofia, I decided to focus more on museums to avoid the rain in the forecast. Temperatures were also cooler, so I had to borrow a thicker jacket… Read More

[Sofia, Bulgaria, May 13-14, 2019] I spent the next few days showing my hometown to B, who arrived in Sofia three days after me. It was his first trip to Europe since 1992, so he was little anxious about the long flight. But everything went smoothly and he popped out of customs smiling and ready to spend the next 2 weeks on the Balkans. I had a whole day free before his… Read More

[Sofia, Bulgaria, Sept 23-24, 2017] I spent the last few days spending time with dear friends and family before I head back to Los Angeles. On Saturday, I spent the whole day at my friend Slaveya’s house. Another friend of hers visited, and we had 3 coffees and snacks over a six-hour period. 🙂 I always wonder why I can’t do that in the US. I cannot remember the last time I… Read More

[Sofia, Bulgaria, Sept 22, 2017] We returned from Greece on Thursday, Sept 21. Our host Keti made us Greek coffee before we left. This was very similar to Turkish coffee, which is not surprising – both Bulgaria and Greece spent hundreds of years under Ottoman rule. Friday, Sept 22 was another official holiday in Bulgaria – the Day of Independence. I was not exactly sure how this day was different from our… Read More

[Sofia, Bulgaria, Sept 17, 2017] Today is another big holiday in Bulgaria. We celebrate St. Sophia, Vyara, Nadezhda and Ljubov. The last three names mean Faith, Hope and Love in Bulgarian, and Sophia means The Holy Wisdom of the Lord (from Greek, Agia Sophia).  Everyone who carries one of these four names celebrates what we call a name day. Since I carry the name Nadezhda, today was my name day. The city… Read More

[Berlin, Germany] I had a leisurely last morning in Berlin. My train to Hamburg was not until half past noon, so I had breakfast at my favorite little bakery around the corner from my AirBnB, then went to see one last attraction – Hackesche Hoefe. These are a series of courtyards connecting restored buildings in the Jugendstil (German Art Nouveau) style. The courtyards are full of shops, restaurants and there’s even a… Read More

[Berlin, Germany] I got a hint of Germany’s tumultuous 20th century history yesterday at the German History Museum, but today I got hit in the face with it. I started with Dutch and German painters in the Gemaeldegallerie (“Painting Gallery” in German), but the day turned somber as I visited memorials dedicated to Hitler’s victims and the Berlin Wall. To get to the Gemaeldegallerie, I traveled to Potsdamer Platz. Previously a wasteland… Read More

[Berlin, Germany] In typical Nadya fashion, I spent the ENTIRE day walking around Berlin, save for a short break around dinner. I racked up 30,000 steps on my step counter, I went into four museums and I watched on amazing sunset from the dome of the Reichstag, to sum it up. I started my day with a coffee at the coffee spot just across from my AirBnB. I sat outisde and people… Read More